Peyton Martin Weddle had a melting pot of friends. Dan Weddle said his son was a good kid. A huge Grizzlies fan. One night Dan got a call from his son, who was leaving a game with friends. Peyton asked Dan to check the closet under the stairway to see if a big black jacket was still hanging there. It was. Peyton said he’d be home in 25 minutes to get it.

Turns out Peyton had met a homeless man as the group of friends was walking to the car after leaving FedExForum. The man needed that jacket. Peyton drove home to Cordova, then turned right around and took the jacket back downtown. “He knew we were privileged,” said Dan.

It’s a story typical of Peyton, who was a sophomore at the University of Memphis when he died. He was majoring in business administration and interning at a finance company at the Crescent Center.   He was interested in investing and how the stock market worked.

Peyton died in a one-car accident in February 2016. He was heading home from the UofM, less than half a mile from home. No one can be sure, but it appears his car left the road – possibly to avoid an animal – then Peyton overcorrected and hit a tree head-on. He died instantly. He was talking to his brother on the phone right before the accident happened, asking him to open the garage door since Peyton had forgotten his remote control.

Since that day, Dan, his family and Peyton’s many friends have been working to honor Peyton’s memory as a kind, generous young man.  

This month the PEYitforward Foundation held its annual PMW Classic. The Foundation and the golf tournament raise money to fund a scholarship in Peyton’s name at the University of Memphis and offer referrals and resources to people who experience the sudden, unexpected death of a person too young to die.

The scholarship goes to a student enrolled at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis. Applicants must meet a GPA threshold and write an essay about something they’ve done to help the community. The Weddle family narrows the field to five worthy candidates, then the UofM picks the winner.

This is the second year for the PMW Classic – COVID interrupted plans to start the tournament years ago. The student who was awarded the Peyton Martin Weddle Scholarship last year, Eli Roy, was at this year’s tournament. “Hopefully this deserving young man will get his degree when Peyton couldn’t,” said Dan. “Seeing young people benefit from Peyton’s memory – that’s what makes this rewarding for my family. That and helping people who experience sudden loss, the way we did. That’s what makes us want to do all of this.”

The tournament is held at Memphis National, which was Peyton’s home course. Peyton played golf at Christian Brothers University on a scholarship before he transferred to the University of Memphis to focus on his business studies.   

This year’s PMW Classic sold out of slots for teams, and sponsorships were up significantly. Dan says the foundation has already funded the one-semester Peyton Weddle Scholarship at the UofM in perpetuity. Now he hopes to expand the scholarship to provide a full ride or provide tuition for more deserving students. “That’s my dream,” said Dan. “To keep Peyton’s memory alive by doing something true to who he was.”

Dan Weddle is president of the board and president and CEO of ProTech Services Group, Inc. He's also an investor in the Greater Memphis Chamber Chairman's Circle, a group of more than 160 C-suite business leaders working to spur economic growth, develop the workforce, and improve the business climate throughout the region. Learn more about the group and its task forces here and follow the Chairman’s Circle on LinkedIn.